TEDx talk on groundwater in Africa by Alan MacDonald from BGS

Alan MacDonald speaking at the TEDx event in Scotland in March 2018

In March 2018, Prof Alan MacDonald was invited to talk about groundwater at a TEDx event in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Global TEDx Program helps communities, organisations and individuals to spark conversation across the topics of Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED). The TEDxHeriotWattUniversity 2018’s  theme was Breaking Barriers – focusing on ideas that have broken the established norm and set out to achieve a lasting impact.

Alan leads international groundwater research at the British Geological Survey (BGS), which currently includes about 15 projects in 25 countries. He started his career in the 1990s working with the UK charity WaterAid helping to develop water supplies from groundwater in rural Nigeria. Since then, he has worked extensively across Africa and Asia on water security issues advising governments and NGOs and carrying out academic research with partner universities.

Extract from BGS groundwater storage map of Africa (Source: MacDonald et al., 2012)

Alan’s TEDx talk – Has Africa run out of water? – is an entertaining and accessible introduction to groundwater in Africa. He emphasizes how important groundwater is for water supply for hundreds of millions of people across Africa, and discusses some of the frequently-asked questions about it: how to extract groundwater from the aquifers where it’s stored? Is it safe to drink? And will it run out? While doing this he summarizes some of the key lessons learned from hydrogeological research carried out over recent years, about how to safely and sustainably abstract and protect groundwater so that this great natural resource is available to support people’s health and livelihoods both now and in the future.

Alan’s talk helps to spread the message about the importance of groundwater resources in Africa to new audiences across the TEDx global community. Watch it at https://youtu.be/yO0iu6gb_wE. Maybe it will inspire you to get out there and talk about groundwater to a different audience at an event near you!

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